Tag Archives: Blackberry

eDiscovery 101: BYOD = BYOA (ASPIRIN)

MP900438810In the upcoming Calbar book, The California Guide to Growing & Managing a Law Office, I do a side-by-side comparison between the benefits and detriments of BYOD.  I'm sure the same sort of comparison takes place in meetings at all kinds of companies.  There's no doubt that on paper, many aspects of BYOD might yield productivity gains and other benefits for the enterprise.

[Note:  In the book, I lay out information in the format of pros and cons because the goal is to inform a reader of the positives and pitfalls so they can make an informed decision.]

So, what's my opinion?  If I was the consultant, in most cases, I'd likely fall into the 'against' column.  Why?  I'll get to that in a moment.

For those of you who don't know my background, at one time or another, I pretty much did every job on the operations side of IT before I ever became a lawyer.  This allows me to look at facts through a wide-angle lens.  The way my mind works, I literally imagine an issue as a 3-D photograph.  Let's apply that to BYOD:

We start by playing 'swap' for a moment.  Imagine coming into work one morning and all of the desktops are different brands and chipsets; some of them are Windows, but a mix of XP, Vista and Seven, others are Macs with various versions of the O/S and still others are Linux boxes.  Now, you may actually see that in some concerns, for good reason.  But I'm talking about literally a different box on each desk in the office.

That would be kind of hard to manage, wouldn't it?

Maybe it wouldn't seem like it to you, but again, I'm thinking very broadly.  We're not just dealing with realities, we're dealing with expectations.  What do I mean by that?

When I read most of the articles that address BYOD, they speak in terms of locking down various functions on a device, such as email, via Exchange, for example.  But that''s not how I'm thinking; and it won't be how the employees/consultants will be thinking, either.

Nope.  If it's a device supporting their job, they expect everyone up the chain to be able to support the entire device – not just components of it.  And, the enterprise should expect this as well, since a non-functioning device will ultimately affect productivity.

It means that your help-desk, field service technicians, level II (and level III) support will have to be proficient with every make and model of Windows Phone, Blackberry, iPhone and – if you'll pardon the pun – every flavor of Android.  Oh, and did anyone give any thought as to how you're going to back them up in such a manner that the company owns/controls the data?

That's what it means, Jelly Bean.

So, if you're considering BYOD, I hope the decision-makers are taking this into account and formulating policy.  Never mind that I didn't get into the fact that, if litigation arises, staff may have to turn over their personal devices for imaging or examination.  I also didn't get into how growth highly affects BYOD.  We all know the person who runs out and purchases the brand-new, untested, unpatched version of X the moment it's on the market.  Apple Maps, anyone?

I hope you bought the 1000-count bottle…

Leveraging ActiveSync to Emulate MS Exchange, Part II – Sync Devices

Ok…so you've spent the weekend dutifully configuring your primary database and cloud configuration a la Part I, eagerly (at least, that's what I tell myself…) anticipating Part II; my instructions on how to synchronize your email, calendar & contacts with virtually all of your secondary devices.

The cool thing is, virtually any default or add-on app that supports Microsoft ActiveSync will work with this process.  For example, if you have an Android smartphone or tablet, you can configure Corporate Sync to use the default modules that came stock with your device – at no cost.  Or, since this process sits on a Hotmail backbone, you can use Microsoft's own Hotmail App

But, for a lot of us, we want robust functionality on our mobile devices.  After all, many of us spend more time using those products than our traditional desktop devices (pretty soon, the term 'desktop' won't even be accurate, anymore).  If, like me, you're one of those people, you may want to invest in apps geared to the power-user, such as Touchdown.

However, keep in mind; this is a Microsoft backbone, but it's a free backbone.  Regardless of whether the apps support ActiveSync, their technical support will not be obligated to assist you with the configuration because their products are meant to support true Exchange ActiveSync.  If you experience difficulty, you'll have to throw yourself on the mercy of the particular provider, or hit the support forums.

Basic configuration is actually fairly easy.  Let's take a look at a portion of the default Android Corporate Sync configuration screen:

Droid Corp Sync_75

You have the option of selecting your three sync modules separately.  This is helpful because, for example, I didn't want to use the default settings except to maintain a default copy of my contacts (which is enabled, above).  Then, you simply input your display email address and point to the Hotmail server.  As mentioned in Part I, always make sure you have SSL enabled.  Last (not visible here), input your Hotmail Login ID and password.  That's it!

Now, if you've decided to go the power-route, here's an example of the more robust configuration options available to you in Touchdown:

TD Account AS_75

As you can see, here you must specify ActiveSync, rather than Exchange.  Also, it assumes a domain – which you don't have – but it'll still work with your Login ID.  Sometimes, you need to input the backslash in front of the ID in order to correct for the lack of domain, so if it doesn't work the first time, play around with it a little bit.  You also have a choice of more than one 'reply-to' address.

Server configuration is virtually the same as under the default app above, except Touchdown combines all of the modules under a single icon.  Also, see how it confirms Microsoft IIS/

TD Connection AS_75

Now, the power user is ready to access the Advanced tab and configure the numerous options available.  Yes, it really is that easy!

So, what have we accomplished?

  • First, we've established a virtual database that can be archived on the fly and/or exported from the cloud at any time; extremely important if there's a server outage,
  • We're using SSL for better security, and of course, encryption options are available to us as well,
  • Any email, calendar entry or contact that is created, added or modified at one source is automatically propagated to all other resources,
  • Calendar invitations are seamlessly integrated,
  • No need to bcc: ourselves on every sent message,
  • Ability to work seamlessly in standalone mode with auto-sync once re-connected.

Dare I say…everything but the kitchen sync!  Yeah, I had to say it…I feel shame…

Leveraging ActiveSync to Emulate MS Exchange & Sync Multiple Devices – Part I

MP900448358In order to make great (information) soup, start with the right (data)base.

As promised, this is the first in a short series on how to leverage available software technology to sync Calendar, Contacts, Email and more on virtually all (or most) of your devices.  Now, we all know there are many different ways to accomplish this, however, this is aimed at the individual – or small business or law firm – who can't afford expensive hardware or software, is nervous about the cloud (for good reason) but would like a robust, alternative method to manage their data dependably, automatically and securely.  In other words, they don't want to be up at night worrying about it nor spending the day trying to figure out why it doesn't work!

What do most individuals and businesses in this 24-hour-a-day world want from their technology, anyway?

  • Access to my data 24-hours-a-day! (That was a gimme)
  • Rapid auto-sync (I enter/modify a contact on my smartphone and within five minutes, it propagates to all of my other devices)
  • I reply to an eMail message and it syncs everywhere without having to cc: myself at other locations/accounts (I hear complaints about this all of the time)
  • I receive a calendar appointment and can seamlessly add it to my device's calendar, then it propagates…
  • I generate calendar appointments that others may seamlessly process as well
  • If my server/cloud connectivity is severed, I have access to – and can process – all of my data up to that moment, modify it or generate more, then sync it when connectivity is restored (this is also important while traveling, isn't it?)
  • Ability to mirror/archive/backup the database (if this isn't on your list, it should be)
  • Ability to access the data securely

…and more, of course.  Many products provide some, or all of these features – the problem is, many of them do it in completely different ways, including for each separate function (e.g. calendar or contacts) and don't 'talk' to other devices very well.  The goal is to make the process as seamless as possible.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'm hitting for averages here, folks.  There are a lot of Operating Systems and hardware out there.  On PC, we have Windows, MAC, Linux, etc.  With tablets we have MAC, Blackberry, Android, etc.  Smartphones?  Well, there are four primaries; iPhone, Android, Blackberry & Windows.

We know that most PCs are Windows-based (no knock against Macs, it's just the way it is) and the majority of businesses use them.  iPhones and Androids are duking it out, with Blackberries still in the hunt and the new version of Windows phone making a splash.  We also know that a majority use Microsoft Office-based products (even many Mac users).  So, there's no way I'll make everyone happy.

The example I'll use for our purposes is a Windows-based PC, hosting Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010.  You'll also need a Hotmail/Live Mail cloud component; however, this doesn't mean you'll be changing your existing email setup; you'll be supplementing it.  Last, you'll install the Outlook Hotmail Connector, which allows you to create a virtual database within Outlook.  This will serve as our primary device.  For security, I recommend that it be static, if possible.  Any mobile device, from laptop on down, runs the additional risk of being lost or stolen with your entire database living on it.  Not a pleasant thought.

Is there a method to my madness?  Yes.  The more one can accomplish under a single vendor, the better the results.  In this case, all database components are Microsoft, which makes the process seamless (remember, we're going to be communicating with a lot of devices).  Also, SSL capability was implemented in 2011, meaning your connection to the cloud will be much more secure, whether via Outlook, the Web or your secondary devices.

Once you have your components up & running, you have a choice:

  1. Use Hotmail to "fetch" your emails from your existing database, or,
  2. Forward your emails from your existing database to Hotmail.

Both methods are fine, but I recommend forwarding your emails.  With fetch, Hotmail must make an inquiry and "pull" your messages over.  There will usually be a time delay, which won't be sufficient for those of us who need our messages in real-time.  Forwarding doesn't normally cause a delay; emails are forwarded as they arrive, so this is preferable.  The good news is, you'll have another backup of your messages with your service provider.

As for contacts and calendar, you'll want to import them into your Outlook database as well.  Once completed, you can customize your settings in the cloud.  I recommend disabling as many 'bloatware' features as possible.  After all, you're looking to create a slick, business-like database.  What you do want to enable is your SSL functionality.  One way to verify this is to make sure you may only access it online via https://.  If it works via http://, your security isn't properly configured.

I know this is a lot of detail, but if you're willing to take some time and make the effort, you'll have an excellent base.  In Part II, I'll examine how you'll exploit various flavors of ActiveSync (Corporate Sync on some devices) to sync your data over mutiple platforms.

That's when the fun begins…

Tips & Tricks: A Password-Protected PDA May Save your Bacon One Day

MP900405586 Remember this post from precisely three months ago?  Well, I'm here to tell you; lightning does strike twice – and I mean exactly!

I'm out of town – in the same place I was three months ago – and once again, my Blackberry was working fine this morning…then it wasn't.  It was virtually the identical problem to last time (frozen solid), except for two glaring differences; 1) I haven't made any modifications to the device in a while, so there wasn't any clue as to why this happened and, 2) (this is critical) I could get to my password screen and unlock the device.  I would also like to note that I have virus software and upon reboot, was able to run a sweep before the device froze again – no sign of any contamination.

So, I went over to the same retail outlet, where some of the same people tried to do the same thing (a software repair push).  Fail!  I basically told the techs (same as last time) "I don't care if you have to wipe it out, I have no problem restoring from backup." (Yes, I have a recent backup, just like last time).  I also told them, "Whether this works or not, I have to walk out of here with a working device."

But – just like last time – no love.  They couldn't wipe the device, either.  Now, here's where it gets ugly.  Last time they had a spare Tour in stock – this time, they didn't.  So, they offered to have a new one shipped to me via overnight courier.  Normally this would be completely reasonable.  Unfortunately this happened today, and on this particular day, this device must work.  I can't forward my cell number elsewhere because I'm out of town, on the go and I need to be reachable (is that even a word?)

This is where the password-protection comes in.  With a Blackberry (not familiar with how other PDAs handle this), when password-protection is enabled, a companion security setting automatically enables a 'doomsday' scenario – and you can't turn it off (unless you disable password-protection altogether).  That's right; it doesn't just fail to unlock the device – it allows you to select the number of incorrect passwords you'll allow (from 3-10), then if that threshold is reached, the device wipes itself out.  Even the techs at the store didn't know this.  So, as a last resort, I suggested, since the only thing that did work was the password screen, try repeatedly entering an incorrect password to trigger doomsday.  Even though the device was frozen otherwise, I hoped that enough of the O/S was running in the background that it might work.


Most of you know I tend to be vague about my devices, but most of you also have long since figured out my PDA is a Blackberry.  The reason I mention it this time is, I'm afraid I'm worn out with them.  Just like my clients, I cannot afford to have a primary device crashing for no reason.  I lost more than half a day resolving this in the short-term, but for the long-term, I'm switching to a Droid.